Robin Hood Spotlight

The Adventures of Robin Hood
1950s TV Series
Page 3

Spotlight Review by Allen W. Wright
(September 2005)

Introduction

Starring Richard Greene, Bernadette O'Farrell, Patricia Driscoll, Archie Duncan, Alexander Gauge and Alan Wheatley
(A Sapphire Films Ltd Production for ITC Entertainment)
Aired 1955 - 1960 on ITV in the UK
Aired 1955 - 1959 on CBS in the USA


This is the 3rd page of a multi-part article looking at the influential 1950s TV series. Below you'll learn about the show's spinoff merchandise into a movie, and also information on the show's airdates.

Go back to:
Page 1 to learn about the colourful characters and the actors who played them.
Page 2 to learn about writers and episodes.

Merchandise, Movies and More

As a popular TV show, The Adventures of Robin Hood inspired several spinoff products and tie-ins. It even was ahead of the curve by having a movie remake.

The Sword of Sherwood Forest: Big Screen Adventures

In 1960, Richard Greene starred in a theatrically-released Robin Hood film, The Sword of Sherwood Forest. Greene is the only regular actor from the TV series to appear in this full-colour version. Hammer Horror star Peter Cushing played the Sheriff of Nottingham. It also features an early screen appearance by Oliver Reed.

Sarah Branch was a Maid Marian who encountered Robin for the first time, proving that it wasn't simply a continuation of the TV series continuity. While they had already recast Marian once for television, in the TV continuity, she was a childhood friend of Robin of Locksley. 

There was some continuity behind the scenes. Scriptwriter Alan Hackney had contributed three episodes to the TV show's final season. Director Terence Fisher directed 11 episodes of the TV series, including the haunting episode "The Dream". Fisher had worked with Peter Cushing before on some of the most notable Hammer films including The Curse of Frankenstein and The Horror of Dracula.

The plot revolves around an attempt to assassinate Archbishop of Canterbury and king's Chancellor Hubert Walter. The film encorporates a genuine historical figure, but it lacks the political edge of the best TV episodes. 

Those Other "Movies"

Around the time of Kevin Costner's 1991 film Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, several episodes were edited together into "movies" such as Robin Hood: The Movie which is available in both black-and-white and colorized versions.

Elements of the episodes are edited out of order. For example, the last scene in Robin Hood: The Movie has the dying Will Scathelock asking Robin to become the leader of the band (from "The Moneylender") but many earlier sequences in the "movie" already show Robin in charge.

It might seem strange to readers used to DVD boxed sets and streaming services, but there was a time when these kind of movie compilations were likely the only way you could buy or rent an old TV show.

Book Tie-Ins

Several books were published based on the show, such as a "Rand McNally Giant Book" from 1955. This picture book features Robin's first meeting with members of his band, the archery contest against Giles Black (from "The Challenge") and the rescue of Will Stutely (from "A Guest for the Gallows"), but the compressed storytelling means that it is not faithful to the TV continuity. Still, the characters are drawn to resemble their TV counterparts.

Comic Books

The 1950s were a boom period for Robin Hood comics. Several publishers produced Robin Hood comics to cash in on the popularity of the Richard Greene TV series. Usually, the comic book Robin Hood of this era was clean-shaven with dark hair (like his then-current TV counterpart) and tended to have red, orange or yellow tunics rather than the familiar Lincoln green. Some of the hero's comic adventures were quite bizarre -- he faced off against tigers, hawks and apes. Once, the archer even donned a superhero disguise in Robin Hood Tales from DC Comics.

Magazine Enterprises / Sussex's pre-existing Robin Hood series became The Adventures of Robin Hood with issue 6 and sported photo covers of Greene. With issue 7, Little John was redrawn to resemble Archie Duncan.

What happened with the Sheriff of Nottingham was a bit different. The early issues had named the Sheriff "Robert Murdach" -- very similar to the historical Ralf Murdac who was a 12th century sheriff and the antagonist in Henry Gilbert's novel. This early sheriff was a rotund, clean shaven man.

But the comics did not merely "recast" the sheriff to look like his TV counterpart. Instead in issue 7, Prince John fires the original Robert Murdach and instead appoints his cousin, the identically named Sir Robert Murdach to become the new sheriff. So, a different character but with the same name as his predecessor.

While this new comic book sheriff is drawn to resemble Alan Wheatley, he has a different background. In the TV series, Robin Hood was an ex-crusader, but the Sheriff state at home. But the comic book version of the sheriff is also a crusader -- and was present for one of the Third Crusade's bloodiest battles.

The Magazine Enterprise series ended with the eighth issue. Only three issues featured photo covers, and only two had drawn the characters to resemble the TV versions. It was a short-lived tie-in.

Meanwhile in Great Britain, publishers such as World, Miller and Streamline/United Anglo-American reprinted the American Robin Hood comics of the 1950s. TV Heroes had a Robin Hood comic feature. And Pearson's TV Picture Stories adapted three Richard Greene stories into comic book form. 

Also, Amalgamated Press published a series of Robin Hood annuals, which collected both colour and black-and-white Robin Hood comic book adventures. The annuals reprinted comic stories from issues of the Sun and Thriller Comics Library. Robin Hood was also a fixture in the weekly comic publication Swift, but this Robin Hood drawn by Frank Bellamy looked more like Errol Flynn than Richard Greene.

These comics vanished by the time the Greene series went off the air.

Other Tie-In Products

And of course, there were toys and games made to tie in with Adventures. For example, there were jigsaw puzzles like the one from Built-Rite which showed Robin, Little John and other characters. Marx produced a line of plastic figures made to resemble Greene and his band of men. Oh, and then there were badges, patches and hats all made to tie in with the television show.

Airdates

It appears that the first country to air the series was Canada. The Adventures of Robin Hood premiered on Thursday Sept. 22 at 6:00 pm on CBLT (Channel 9, later Channel 6), Toronto's CBC station, and at 7:00 pm on CKCO (Channel 13) and independent CBC affiliate in Kitchener, Ontario. For most of the first season, episodes aired nearly a week before other countries. By November 1955, the Toronto airing had moved to Tuesdays at 7:30 pm.

Although the first Canadian broadcast happened on the very day that the UK first got commercial television, the first episode ("The Coming of Robin Hood") premiered on British television (well, London television, anyway) on Sunday, September 25, 1955 at 5:30 pm. The last new episode to be aired in the UK, "Trapped", debuted on November 12, 1960. 

CBS in the United States began showing the series the day following the first UK transmission, Monday Sept. 26, 1955 at 7:30 pm. An ad in The New York Times falsely claimed that the series filmed in the real Sherwood Forest. 

Quite a few video guides say the CBS run was from 1955 - 1958, but that's not quite true. The original prime time run finished on Sept. 22, 1958 with the episode "To Be A Student". But on October 4, 1958, The Adventures of Robin Hood moved to Saturday mornings at 11:30 pm, beginning with a rerun of the second episode "The Moneylender" (according to TV Guide. Reruns continued for a few months. But then on January 10, 1959, CBS aired the fourth season episode "Sybella" on Saturday morning. More new episodes followed. The series left its Saturday morning time slot on Sept. 26, 1959 with the episode "The Truce". 

For decades, however, The Adventures of Robin Hood has appeared in reruns around the world. Judging from DVD prints, some syndicated airings bore the new title "Adventures in Sherwood Forest".

Sources

Of course, the primary source for this page are the episodes themselves - which you can order below. I also benefited from the websites listed above. Old TV Guides and newspaper articles were helpful in sorting out the airdates of the series.

In addition, I found the following books to be useful.

Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw by Stephen Knight. Blackwell: Oxford UK and Cambridge, USA, 1994. This is the definitive book on the legend. It provides the most comprehensive look at changes to the Robin Hood legend. Knight doesn't believe in a real Robin Hood and he provides valuable criticism about such a quest. An interview with Professor Knight is available on my website.

ROBIN HOOD: A MYTHIC BIOGRAPHY by Stephen Knight. No, this still isn't a look at possible real life Robins.  Instead, it's the biography of a mythic character or rather four characters. It divides Robin's legendary persona into four archetypes. A great introduction to the literary aspects of the legend.

Buy Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography on Amazon.com
Buy Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography on Amazon.co.uk
Buy Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography on Amazon.ca


"Robin Hood on the Screen" by Jeffrey Richards. There have been several versions of this article, including its appearance as a chapter in Richards's 1977 book, Swordsmen of the Screen. The version I used for this article appeared in Robin Hood: The Many Faces of that Celebrated Outlaw, BIS, 1995, pp. 135-144.

Information on the writers of the series and the Hollywood Blacklist can be found in:

I'D HATE MYSELF IN THE MORNING: A MEMOIR by Ring Lardner Jr. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press / Nation Books, 2000. The memoir of one famous writer of the TV show.
Buy I'd Hate Myself in the Morning: A Memoir on Amazon.com
Buy I'd Hate Myself in the Morning: A Memoir on Amazon.co.uk
Buy I'd Hate Myself in the Morning: A Memoir on Amazon.ca

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950 - 2002 by Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. The title says it all: a look at many writers connected with The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Buy Hide in Plain Sight on Amazon.com
Buy Hide in Plain Sight on Amazon.co.uk
Buy Hide in Plain Sight on Amazon.ca

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from the links associated with these interviews (at no additonal cost to you).

Continue on the next sections

This is only the third page in a multi-part article.

Proceed to page 4 for a special look at an episode, "The Christmas Goose"

PAGE 4 - The Christmas Goose

Or go back to look at the previous sections:

PAGE 1 - Introduction, Characters and Actors

PAGE 2 - Writers and Episodes (and Lyrics)

Or if you're interested in watching the epsides, scroll down.

Order The Adventures of Robin Hood on Amazon

The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. This classic 1950s black-and-white television series is available in various video editions, including a recently released boxed set. Clever plots (often based on real medieval laws) and charm make this show rise about the time and budget constraints of old-time television. The entire series is available by season in DVD boxed sets. Many low budget labels have released smaller collections of episodes in North America.
The Complete Series (all four seasons)
Buy The Adventures of Robin Hood: The Complete Series on Amazon.com (US DVD)
The Adventures of Robin Hood - The Complete Series [UK/European DVD]
The Complete First Season (Series)
Buy the Region 1, NTSC for North America DVD set on Amazon.com
Buy the Region 0 PAL, only for European players -- not for North America) on Amazon.co.uk The Complete Second Season (Series)
Buy the Region 1, NTSC for North America DVD set on Amazon.com
Buy the Region 2 PAL, only for European players -- not for North America DVD set on Amazon.co.uk
The Complete Third Season (Series)
Buy the Region 1, NTSC for North America DVD set on Amazon.com
Buy the Region 2 PAL, only for European players -- not for North America DVD set on Amazon.co.uk
The Complete Fourth Season (Series)
Buy the Region 1, NTSC for North America DVD set on Amazon.com
Buy the Region 0 PAL, only for European players -- not for North America DVD set on Amazon.co.uk

And if you're done with the 1950s TV series:

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© Text and Location pictures, Copyright 2019 Allen W. Wright - All Rights Reserved
Other pictures and quoted text are copyright their respective owners and used under fair use for the purpose of criticism and review.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases from the links associated with these interviews (at no additonal cost to you).

This page is a part of Robin Hood -- Bold Outlaw of Barnsdale and Sherwood